By L.A. Williams
Christian Action League
January 23, 2017
A bridge-builder, a velvet hammer, a mediator who stood her ground, a champion for life and a person who lived out her faith in public and private — descriptions of former Tar Heel legislator Ruth Culbertson Samuelson flooded the media and social networking sites Monday after her passing.
The funeral for the beloved former Republican representative, who had also served as a Mecklenburg County commissioner, is set for Friday at 2:30 p.m. at First Baptist Church of Charlotte. She was 57.
A graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill with a degree in speech communication, Samuelson worked in insurance and securities before being elected to the commission in 2000. There, she supported the construction of greenways and began to build a reputation as a smart and innovative defender of the environment.
In 2006 she was elected to the N.C. House and quickly made inroads on both sides of the aisle.
“She was more of a mediator who tried to work out differences,” Pricey Harrison (D-Guilford), a close friend with whom Samuelson shared weekly movie nights, told the News & Observer. “I think that was sort of her natural personality: She was very thoughtful and very smart about it, and seemed to read people’s thoughts.”
Former state Rep. Charles Jeter said Samuelson never let differences become personal and that she was “the epitome of everything you would want in an elected official.”
Similarly N.C. House Majority Leader John Bell called the mother of four and grandmother of three “an amazing public servant and friend” and “everything that is right with North Carolina politics.”
U.S. Sen. Tillis told the media that Samuelson’s life was “grounded in faith and focused on serving others.”
“As Speaker of the House, there was no one I counted on more,” he said.
Samuelson credited her parents with teaching her to fight for what she believed in. In 2011, she pushed for the Woman’s Right to Know bill to allow women considering abortion to view an ultrasound and hear a fetal heartbeat.
“We do a lot of talking about transparency, about taking time to know all the facts before we make a decision,” Samuelson told fellow lawmakers that year.
“When it comes to abortion, it’s very important for women to have all the facts.”
In 2013, she championed efforts to make it illegal to perform an abortion for the purpose of sex-selection.
Samuelson supported efforts to expand solar energy and fought to include tougher measures in a coal ash bill. She was endorsed by a wide range of organizations, including the Sierra Club and the National Rifle Association, and was awarded the Order of the Long Leaf Pine.
Before claiming her eternal reward, Samuelson told her family, “I want people to know that God is my good friend.”
Citing “Going Home” by Bill Kemp and Diane Kerner Arnett, the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, called Samuelson’s death “miraculous.”
“Many prayers were offered for the healing of beloved former Rep. Ruth Samuelson who suffered from ovarian cancer, but no miracle of a healing was granted,” Dr. Creech said. “However, I wonder how many of us really understand what an incredible miracle it is to pass from this life into the next, prepared, with full assurance and peace — peace that your sin debt is paid in full — your account overflowing with the righteousness of Christ — the deed for your eternal inheritance signed by the Father in Christ’s blood and sealed by the Holy Spirit. Moreover, your good works follow you and not even a glass of water given in Christ’s name shall go unrewarded.
“This is the miraculous way Ruth Samuelson died.”
The Samuelson family will receive friends Thursday from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Uptown Church, 926 Elizabeth Ave. in Charlotte.